August 25, 2008 / 3:15 PM / 12 years ago

CORRECTED - UPDATE 1-Tropical Depression 7 forms in Caribbean-NHC

(Corrects that upgrade based on satellite data, not aircraft observation)

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Monday an area of low pressure over the central Caribbean Sea formed into Tropical Depression Seven and could become the season’s latest tropical storm later Monday.

An Air Force Reserve unit’s reconnaissance aircraft was expected to investigate the area, about 260 miles southeast of Port au Prince, Haiti, later Monday.

However, based on satellite data and surface observations, the NHC determined that the system had become better organized, and was packing winds near 35 miles per hour.

When wind speeds reach 39 mph, the system will become Tropical Storm Gustav.

According to forecast tracks, two of six forecasters so far expect the system to head northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, while the other four tracks show the system headed toward Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula.

One private forecaster said the system would drift toward western Cuba by the end of the week. “It is not an immediate threat to the Gulf, but it will need to be watched through the week,” the forecaster said.

Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast.

The NHC said Monday Tropical Depression Fay remained nearly stationary over southern Mississippi. The NHC said it had issued its final advisory on Fay.

It was also monitoring an area of disorganized cloudiness and showers several hundred miles northeast of the Leeward Islands. The NHC said conditions did not seem favorable for further development right now. (Reporting by Haitham Haddadin; Editing by John Picinich)

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